<
>

Bullpen holds out -- barely

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Jimy Williams got just enough out of Pete Munro
in his first start of the year for Houston. The Milwaukee Brewers
certainly made it close against the Astros' relievers.

Jose Vizcaino and Jeff Kent each hit solo homers, and the
Astros' bullpen held on for a 5-4 victory Sunday.

"We pieced it together with those relievers and kept scrapping
to get the victory," Williams said after his team salvaged the
final game of the three-game series.

Munro, signed by the Astros on June 3 as a free agent after
being released by Minnesota, gave up seven hits and one run in four
innings.

The Brewers made it close by scoring two runs in the eighth
inning off of Astros' closer Octavio Dotel to cut the lead to one
run.

Dotel pitched a scoreless ninth inning to get his 12th save. Dan
Miceli (3-2) pitched a perfect fifth inning for the win.

Williams replaced Munro in the fifth after he gave up a leadoff
double to Junior Spivey even though he was pitching a shutout.

"I just felt with the two left-handers (Geoff Jenkins and Lyle
Overbay) coming up, it was the right move to make," Williams said.
"It obviously didn't work like I planned."

Three pitches after Williams replaced Munro, Jenkins hit a
two-run homer off Mike Gallo.

"I was trying to keep it close so Dotel could get a save,"
Williams joked.

For his part, Munro said he wanted to stay in to complete the
fifth.

"Strategically, it was the right move at the time," he said.
"But, it didn't work out too well."

Astros reliever Brad Lidge pitched out of a no-out, bases-loaded
jam in the seventh by striking out Keith Ginter, Ben Grieve and
Chad Moeller. He also struck out Jenkins, but Jenkins reached after
catcher Brad Ausmus couldn't handle Lidge's wild pitch.

The four strikeouts tied a major league record accomplished 45
previous times. The last time it was done was by Dotel on June 11,
2003.

"I didn't have great control to start that inning," Lidge
said. "But I was able to get some sliders over and get out of the
inning."

The Astros were aided by the offensive woes of the Brewers, who
stranded 13 runners, including 10 in scoring position.

"We had a lot of opportunities to win the game and we didn't
execute on too many of them," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.

Ginter stranded eight runners on his own -- grounding into a
double play and striking out twice.

"He can step up there one at-bat and strike out, and next
(time) up hit one in the seats," Yost said. "You just stick with
him in hopes that he can do that."

Ben Sheets (5-4) lasted six innings and gave up four earned runs
-- the most he's given up this season. In his last start against
Anaheim on June 8, Sheets gave up only one hit and no runs in nine
innings.

"I don't think we played well in any aspect of the game,"
Sheets said. "I felt OK. I was just missing."

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first when Vizcaino hit his
first homer of the season. Grieve got his glove on the ball against
the right-field fence, but it bounced out and was ruled a homer.

Back-to-back doubles by Mike Lamb and Jason Lane in the fourth
inning gave the Astros a 2-0 lead.

The Astros scored a run in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead.
Following a walk to Munro, Vizcaino singled. Jeff Bagwell followed
with a ground-rule double to drive in Munro.

The Brewers cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth on Jenkins' two-run
homer.

The Astros increased the lead to 4-2 in the sixth. Following a
double by Lane and a single by Orlando Palmeiro, Ausmus reached on
an error by Ginter to score Lane.

Kent's 10th homer in the seventh inning increased the Astros'
lead to 5-2.

Game notes
Overbay's first-inning double extended his hitting streak
to 11 games. Earlier in the season, Overbay had an 18-game hitting
streak, which is a Brewers' NL record. Overbay had two doubles in
the game, giving him 27 for the season, which leads the majors. ...
Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte is scheduled to continue his
rehabilitation from a strained left elbow with a simulated game in
Houston on Monday.